Doing yoga with your child or grandchild is a special way of spending time with them: a playful bonding experience that also helps establish healthy habits at an early age. Yoga can enhance your child’s strength, coordination and flexibility, while encouraging body awareness, self-control and gratitude.
A way you can introduce yoga to your children is through a regular kids’ yoga class. But what if it doesn’t fit in your family’s schedule or you can’t find the right teacher? To offer your kids a good experience of yoga, all you need is an open space, a yoga mat or a clean rug and a relatively quiet environment. Just remember: to be engaging and valuable, yoga practice for children should be spontaneous and entertaining.
But where to start with a yoga routine for kids?
There are several kid-friendly yoga poses you can try at home. But before you start, try one of the simplest and most powerful practices: diaphragmatic breathing.
The Dragon Breath is an ancient exercise that helps us clean the lungs and air passages, strengthen the abdominal muscles, and charge the body with huge amounts of oxygen and energy. Here is the way Do you Yoga (one of the top yoga digital platforms with hundreds of online video classes and programs) introduces it to children (age 6+):
- Sit up tall and inhale deeply through your nose, imagine something has been stuck in your nose, and then exhale forcefully to get it out of there.
- Repeat, gradually increasing the speed of your breath. Concentrate on the exhalations but remember to release your abdomen after each exhalation so that fresh air can come back in.
- After about 30 repetitions, take a deep inhalation and hold your breath for a few seconds before releasing and resting. Young children can do this too, but don’t try to have them do it perfectly.
More playful activities for your children
If you need more inspiration “Yoga for Kids And Their Grown-Ups” by Katherine Priore Ghannam (founder of Headstand, a non-profit organization based in the San Francisco Bay Area, leading a national movement to integrate mindfulness and yoga in schools) offers simple guidance for playful activities to help you bring the benefits of yoga and mindfulness into your child’s life. A way for your kids to learn while playing with their bodies and with you but also a chance for them to disconnect from distractions and connect with themselves right at home.
Most children’s days are filled with energy and activity – she says-. But just like us, it’s important for them to experience periods of calmness and relaxation. What better way to connect with your little one than practising your Cobra pose together at the end of the day? Or enjoying a bedtime meditation?
Our favourite ‘ yoga family poses’ from the book
Commonly called “head to knee” pose, it helps to stretch the lower back and thighs creating a calming opportunity to release the neck and shoulders in the fold. You can ask your child what colour he/she wants his/her dragonfly to be and hel him/her create a story about the dragonfly’s whereabouts and adventures as you hold the pose steady.
A fun opportunity for young kids to imitate animals while growing their yoga practice. It is a rejuvenating backbend, and slightly more intense than Cobra. The key here is to press your hands and the tops of your feet into the ground while lifting everything else. The pose will make you feel light and elevate an is a great heart opener.
Yoga Push Up
It engages the core and upper arms and is all about alignment. At first, allow the knees to stay on the floor while lowering the upper body down. This helps you build strengths. Over time, your body will grow stronger and you will be able to lower with your knees off the floor.
Regardless of your own skill level, “Yoga for Kids And Their Grown-Ups” has practices and techniques that you and your child will be able to enjoy. It is written for parents but uses instructions that are easy for children to understand: over 100 engaging activities, including essential poses, breathing exercises, meditations, yoga games and clear illustrations.